Summer Camp: The Fun Marathon of the Year
For me summer camp is always the highlight of the year. I am approaching it with a great deal of excitement and anticipation. Usually the “feeling kicks in” as soon as the six weeks planning is ready. I love the brainstorming with colleagues in the beginning. We have such a great team!
Ideas start out as a drop of rain and then they escalate very quickly into a wild flow of river that drags us along and soon we can weave them into a multicoloured chain of events, trips and afternoon activities.
30 field trips! Always the combination of well known, highly preferred places, so called top favourites and new locations that are a complete mystery for us teachers too…sometimes even we are surprised of what kind of field trips and workshops are available.
The past 11 years gave me enough insight into what this beautiful and luckily small country has to offer. The Netherlands is an extremely child friendly and creative place. I enjoy it so much that with a little bit of searching I can find amazing activities and add it to our already existing list of 75 outings. 😉
The start of the day always depends on the group attending that day….
Small group, big group, very young ones, curious older ones, new children or the ones who grew up with us….
If someone starts for the first time I am always a bit anxious in the morning. Sometimes there are lots of tears but most of the time the new children hop in the classroom as easily as a bunny to the spring meadow and make friends in the first moment.
Due to the fact that we pick up children from 11 schools usually the newcomers see familiar faces immediately so it is easy to connect. I also like it very much when children bring along their friends for a day or two because then we know that a good day is guaranteed.
We also have the chance sometimes to ask children where they would like to go. Those improvised trips are amazing too. Would you like to go bowling? Then bowling it will be! 😁
I like to drive our mini buses, I like when we go in big groups with many colleagues and I like road trips. Of course, when we go far away, like Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht is always a bit more challenging but at the end it is always worth it!
When we travel far, we have a picnic lunch. If we have Wilma joining us for the picnic then we hit the jackpot! 😊 Since Wilma is the one who cooks for our locations but also drives for us most of the time, and takes care of us in general she is awake before 5 in the morning that by the time I arrive to work she already has prepared everything and ready to go. There is always some extra treat hiding in the big picnic trolley for the children and also for us…..and the coffee supply is guaranteed! 😊
We need coffee….camps are beautiful and energizing but it also requires a great deal of effort to keep the delicate balance between providing the ultimate fun and keeping all the children safe.
We are lucky with the children, very lucky. The older ones take super good care of the little ones and the new ones are always being welcomed and encouraged by the children who grew up with us and usually spend the summer with us.
The afternoons are also very busy. After a delicious warm meal, or picnic in the woods we have a bit of quiet time and after that it is time for games, arts and crafts, music, circle time, quizzes or many -many improvised games that children come up with in a blink of an eye.
After the activities we have a warm dinner, so the good news is that if lunch was not the absolute favourite, there is still a second chance. 😜
On very hot days we always have the sprinkles and the small pools out. Those are the best days (and most exhausting ones-I have to say ) 🥴
On cold and stormy days we have the big gym where lots of activities are waiting for us and we can keep the rain out. It is always good to play dodge ball, football, basketball, we can set up an obstacle course in minutes or turn the gym into a disco or just let the children build a fort from the mattresses and use their imagination to invent games.
At the end of the day everything is quieting down a bit as children slowly being picked up. The ones who remain till the end are always helpful with cleaning up, they know the routine so well that sometimes even before I have the chance to ask, the gym is tidied up, the sandbox is closed and the little cars are neatly parked under the roof.
It is time for me to go home too, tired but satisfied, ready for the next day’s adventure. My colleagues are all in all amazing and I am very happy to be part of this family!!!
Summer camp is a six weeks marathon but I enjoy it a lot and wouldn’t change it for anything else!
Here are some sentences from children we are lucky to have in our camps for many years: ❤
Lilian: “Summer camp is always fun because I have friends here, the teachers are nice and I like the gym and that my little brother just started in the baby group. I like the most when we go to museums and I like being outside but not in full sun. First, I don’t want to go to the park in the afternoon, then I don’t want to come home from the park…I love building mattress fort in the gym with my friends. I also like when we go on field trips with lots of teachers because if one of them is busy, I can always talk to the other ones.”
Madeleine: “I like that we have field trips. My favourite places are KidsZoo and Monkey Town and I like that we get real food here. I also love picnics. I enjoy playing piano in the afternoon and doing arts and crafts. Wojtek is pretty funny and Wilma is a really good driver and cook.”
Aurora: “My favourite part of the summer camp is when we can make ourselves soaking wet when it’s hot and I like picnics and I like to be in the main building because it is nice outside.”
Freeda: “I like to play football and basketball. I like that I can play with my friends and to go to the beach. The trampoline park is my favourite. Wilma is a very good cook. Everything is my favourite food, especially pasta. I feel very comfy in the bus.”
Felix: “I like playing games and indoor playgrounds, I like to play with werewolves, Wojtek is silly-dilly and my favourite soup is meat soup.”
Erwan: “Traveling with you is very good! I love when we go to the beach and the drivers are excellent and super nice! I like the gym and playing chess the most. And food is excellent, you can tell it to Wilma.”
Luigi: ‘’I like the decisions on the field trips where to go and how it is explained and the food I like a lot. I like the drivers and the activities, especially the swimming pool.”